Great question, Dave, and welcome.
It's a matter of finding the subject and making the verb agree in number with that subject. So, if the singular noun 'couple' is the subject, then the verb agrees in singular number (is, not are):
The next couple is... (Standard English)
The next couple are...
However, if you want 'couple' to refer to two people, then
The couple are... ('couple' can mean they)
You have a choice.